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A nation must think before it acts.
The assertive actions China has taken to press its claims in the East China and South China seas since 2010 indicate that its leadership has decided that the time has come to end Deng Xiaoping’s advice to “hide [the country’s capabilities] and bide [its time].” Beijing has combined economic incentives and sanctions with small but incrementally meaningful military pressures. Efforts by neighboring states to form a countervailing coalition have thus far proved ineffective. Beijing’s tactics have been stunningly successful, though there are financial, structural, and resource weaknesses within China that indicate that the effort to assert control over the area will remain unrealized.